Thursday, February 02, 2017

A Man After God’s Own Heart

Jules 1-1It is with profound sadness and very heavy hearts that we announce the graduation of one of RMI's foundational leaders. Jules Gedna passed away January 19 in Boston, MA. He was 62 years old.

Jules began working with RMI in 1989. He was a tireless, hard-working, flexible, loyal colleague. He was known for his integrity and his strong faith in the Lord. RMI was in its infancy, and the only staff it had in Haiti at that time were Dan and Debbie Shoemaker, Jules Gedna, and a handful of other staff.

Jules began working as a 16 yr. old yard boy for missionary, Carlyle Herring, on the mission center in Cayes. Carlyle made sure he went to school and as he saw his potential, began giving him more responsibility. Due to his commitment to the Lord, his sweet spirit, his "can do" attitude, he worked in quite a variety of capacities for various missionaries. At one point he had the opportunity to become an illegal immigrant in New York City but the Lord convicted him that it wasn't the right thing to do. He returned to Haiti and it was at that point that his mentor, Carlyle, got in touch with Dan to recommend Jules for a job working with RMI.

Dan & JulesFrom the time he began working with us he was fiercely loyal to RMI and its ministry. He truly felt that the work he did was not work. It was the ministry that God had called him to. Many companies and groups tried to hire him away from RMI but he told them, "No, God has called me to this ministry."

RMI is where it is because of God's calling and blessing, but also because of Jules. He was truly one of our "founding members", a foundational stone. In the early days, he did it all: chauffeur, translator, team facilitator, mechanic, administrator and so, so many other things. He did market and store buying for RMI. He took care of the banking and legal matters for RMI. He was just so happy to do whatever it took to help the ministry.

Jules 2He became Dan and Debbie Shoemaker’s nearest and dearest friend. He was especially pleased that the Shoemakers daughter, Dawn, was born on his birthday. They celebrated their birthdays together many times, sometimes at his house and sometimes at their house. Jules and Dan had a very close bond. It was never an employer-employee relationship but one of close brotherhood and friendship. They went about the ministry together through thick and thin, in good times and in bad times. They laughed together and played jokes on each other. One could not ask for a better partner in ministry.

As a former team member, Fred Feiertag, recently said, Jules returning to Haiti, fall 2010"He had the brightest spirit in the most humble package." He had a wonderful smile and happy spirit, even when he was in so much pain in the hospital. When he came into a room or a gathering, people would say with excitement, "oh good, Jules is here!" And he was indeed humble. He did not brag or think of himself as deserving of accolades. Yet he was deserving of both.

Did you know that he played detective and police on Dan's behalf one time? One summer when Dan was in the US, his motorcycle was stolen. Jules played detective, tracked it down to northern Haiti, set up a "trap" for the thief (pretending to be a buyer for it), dragged in the local police to make the legal bust, retrieved the bike and returned to Cayes with it - all before Dan and his family returned to Haiti.

Joshua, Jules, Marthe, Jeremie GednaJules was a rare gem. He fought cancer for 8 years but is now pain-free and has a new body with our Lord. He leaves his wife Martha and his 2 sons, Jeremie (on the right) and Joshua (on the left) and their families behind.

RMI has set up a Memorial Fund to help the family with the funeral expenses. If you would like to contribute you can give online through the RMI website and click on the Donate button. It will take you to a page with a Jules Gedna Memorial Fund line item, Or you can send a check to RMI, 5475 Lee Street, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971 and designate “Jules Gedna Memorial Fund”.

You can leave memories and pictures of Jules in the Facebook group called “Remembering Jules Gedna”.

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